The owner of the first electric Hackney Cab taxi in Midlothian has voiced his frustration at the lack of suitable charging points in the county.
Gerry McCabe (58) from Bonnyrigg, took ownership of his environmentally friendly vehicle last September and has been praised by his customers for using the green taxi.
However, he is worried that local people are being put off following him into an electric vehicle due to a lack of places to charge up locally.
He said: “I get great compliments from my customers about how smooth, quiet and environmentally friendly my taxi is.
“The only problem I and other electric cars have is that Midlothian is lagging so far behind other local districts in installing ‘rapid’ charge points. These fully charge my taxi in 45 minutes.
“East Lothian has at least 12 rapid charge units, located in most large towns. Edinburgh has over 20 rapid chargers. While Falkirk has a rapid charge super station with at least 16 rapid charge units.
“Midlothian on the other hand has three rapid charge units. Two of which at Sheriffhall are currently not working. There is another at Straiton, but when I went to it last week there were six cars queued up.
“In Midlothian there are five 22 kilowatt ‘fast’ charge points that take me 75 minutes to fully charge, but again they are either always in use or constantly inoperable. The ones at Gorebridge and Newtongrange train stations are rarely working.
“So come on Midlothian get your act together and catch up with the rest of the UK by installing more rapid charge points!”
Gerry has been disappointed with Midlothian Council’s approach to electric vehicles, despite the local authority declaring a climate emergency.
He said: “I have been in contact with the council and they are saying we have the highest growth in Scotland but are second lowest in terms of funding.
“They say they are building new 22kw units at Vogrie Park and Dalkeith Campus. But these chargers take double the time of the rapid ones.
“I’ve heard that there are 6,000 new electric cars every month in the UK going on the road but they don’t seem to be upgrading the infrastructure, particularly in Midlothian.
“Straiton and Sheriffhall especially should have super stations. It costs £25,000 for a rapid charger so it’s a lot of money, but if people are going to get electric vehicles we should have these things up and running already.
“Midlothian Council has declared a climate emergency and said it is committed to bringing down their carbon footprint but they are not updating the infrastructure for electric vehicles.
“I dropped off at Newbattle High School today and went to charge the taxi but the unit there is broken. The one at Penicuik High School is the same, it’s never working.
“Penicuik is a big place but they only have this one 22kw unit at the school and it doesn’t work.
“I see new electric cars all the time as they are more affordable, but they need places to charge.
“I have got a charger at home so I charge overnight, it takes four or five hours, but most people don’t have that.”
A Midlothian Council spokesman said: “We have explained to Mr McCabe previously that charge points that have and will be installed by the council are funded by the Scottish Government and the funding given is on a pro-rata basis across all authorities in Scotland. Midlothian receives the second lowest amount of funding across all mainland authorities in Scotland.
“That said, the county fairs well in terms of the number of rapid chargers – there are seven in total in Midlothian, although not all hosted by the council. Falkirk and West Lothian, by comparison, have five and four respectively. Please note Falkirk Council has recently received separate funding as part of the ‘Electric A9’ project to construct a vehicle charging hub which will consist of a further 26 charging points.
“We’re installing two more rapid chargers at Sheriffhall, at a cost of £93,000, to complement the two rapid chargers there currently.
“Apologies, as the units at Sheriffhall were temporarily out of action due to a power outage and, as soon as we were notified, we took action to get them back online. They are now working.
“As for the chargers at Newbattle and Penicuik also rarely working this is not the case. If a charger is notified as being out of order then we take immediate steps to resolve the situation and, in worst case scenari, this will be within 24 hours.
“As well as the rapid chargers, which dependant on vehicle type can fully charge a vehicle in around 30 minutes, there are also seven 22Kw chargers hosted by Midlothian Council and another four not hosted by the council. These can recharge an electric car in around six hours, which is suitable for most vehicle owners.
“The council will be installing a further four new 22 Kw points at Vogrie Country Park, Rosslyn Chapel, Dalkeith Campus and additional charge points at Penicuik Centre. Additional points are also to be installed at Newbattle High School.”
“Mr McCabe is also complaining that chargers at Gorebridge and Newtongrange train stations don’t work. We have advised him already those are hosted and operated by Network Rail. There are a further two chargers at Eskbank and Shawfair stations, also operated by Network Rail.